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10/27/06 5:54 PM ET

Jim Leyland pregame interview

Manager says Tigers need to look at the positive

When you guys won this year, you've won by playing good baseball, and when you've lost you've generally just been outpitched. How tough was it for you last night, Jim, to know in many respects you'd outplayed that team and played less than artistic baseball, and losing a very tough and pivotal game?

JIM LEYLAND: I think conditions are the same for everybody, we have no complaints. There will be no excuses. Some people have different opinions on which was the biggest play, which play hurt the most. Some people felt like it was Rodney's throw. I definitely felt like it was the misfortune when Curtis slipped, kind of turned the game around. That's one out, seventh inning, nobody on, the bunt play would never have happened, obviously. And it's just one of those unfortunate things. The conditions were the same for everybody, which were a little tough, but we have no complaints. Preston Wilson slipped on a ball, and still got to it. So that's just the way it goes. That's part of it. But in reality you can look for a lot of things when you're 1-3. And a lot of it is the fact that we really haven't hit very much. They can talk about a certain thing going wrong in a game, but when I say this, I don't mean this disrespectful, going into last night I think Pudge was 0 for whatever he was, Polanco has yet to get a hit, Granderson is 1-for-18 or 19 and Ordonez is 2-for-15. That's not the way to get it done. That's not a criticism. I'm not down on anybody about it. These are my guys, I stick by them, I love them and we're going to try to turn it around tonight. But up to this point you can look for a lot of little things that haven't happened. But the fact of the matter is, we really haven't got much offense going. We did a little bit last night, we didn't add on runs. And that's one of the reasons we're 1-3.

It's nasty out there right now, and it's supposed to be beautiful tomorrow. If you had a choice, would you wait or is there some motivation to play this game tonight?

JIM LEYLAND: I want to do whatever is in the best interests of baseball. And if the Commissioner and everybody says we'll play baseball tonight, which I think we will, we'll play baseball. I really have no say in the decision whether to play or not. And whatever decision is made, I'll honor it. I'm ready to play tonight. It's going to be a little miserable, probably, but it's not going to be any different for the Cardinals than it is for us.

In regards to Kenny Rogers, you said you didn't want to pitch him in this atmosphere. Were you saying the potentially hostile response would disrupt him?

JIM LEYLAND: You know, this is another one of those where it's good for the journalists, because they all have opinions, and that's good. I don't have any problem with that, it's not going to change my mind. My view was I want to pitch him Game 2 and 6, and I heard one TV personality say that he thinks the hostile environment would really motivate Kenny, and I don't buy that. I think it would probably work the opposite. I think the environment in Comerica Park motivates Kenny. The bottom line is we have to win three games. So if somebody thinks, well, you have a better chance to extend it by pitching Kenny tonight, well, that may or may not be. But my thought process is I'm not going to change anything. Plus Kenny, you know, he's had quite a bit of rest during this run, two extra days, and he's responded very well to it. We have to win three games. I made that decision and however people want to look at that, I'm sure you can make a case for either way. And I will say this, if it was one game left, I would pitch Kenny. But we've got to win three.

How much stock do you put in experience, having been here before? Obviously the Cardinals have a core that has been in the postseason quite a bit and been to a World Series, you guys have quite a few who have not. Has that made a difference in terms of some of these errors or throwing errors or anything?

JIM LEYLAND: No, I think if the ball is wet and you don't get it gripped just right, it can slip out of anybody's hand. I don't buy that. The reason the Detroit Tigers are here, if you want to make a case for that, we shouldn't be here, because the Yankees had more experience than we did, a lot of the Oakland players had more experience than we did. We probably shouldn't have even gotten into the playoffs if you want to go on the experience. The White Sox aren't even in the playoffs this year, and they're the defending world champions. I'll take talent. There's a lot of combinations when you're 1-3 that didn't go right, but a lot of it is we've just really haven't had much breathing room and we really haven't done anything offensively, in my opinion. Obviously, yes, when you play a tight game, like we did last night, you've got to make the plays, but nobody can help the fact that a man slipped on a wet surface. It came at a real dramatic time, during the World Series. If that happened during the regular season, you might see it on the highlights for a second then you wouldn't see it anymore. But now you'll probably be watching it for a long time. They're still talking about Curt Flood, Christ, that was 1968 (laughter.)

This hasn't been asked, you mentioned the pitchers errors, have you ever seen anything like it? Any of your pitching staffs ever made this many errors in consecutive games like this, and do you have any explanation for it?

JIM LEYLAND: I think it's a record, from what somebody told me. I hope we don't break it tonight. But any ways, I think we just set a record for pitcher errors in consecutive games or something, and you always try to find alternatives silver lining in everything. So obviously next spring when we talk about PFP, none of the pitchers will be bitching about it, when they see what happened in the World Series. I've already come up with a thing next spring, I know this sounds crazy, but I'm going to have the grounds crew sprinkle out in front of home plate and make it wet on a couple of occasions, and have them work it and pick up the ball and work in wet conditions. It may sound crazy, but we're going to do it. We're going to have them water the field in front of the grass and roll some bunts out and make them throw it. There is something to it, I think, because Rodney, it was wet, he gripped the ball with everything, it wasn't a normal grip when he threw it, and he kind of pushed it and it slipped out on him. I haven't seen anything like it, but I don't believe that's the reason we're.

You always talk about after a loss that you don't want your team to hang its head, you want them to act normal and maintain the routine. The hours leading up to tonight games what do you want to see, do you want to hear in the clubhouse among the guys?

JIM LEYLAND: I don't know, I think a lot of that stuff gets carried away. There's simple things that you say to them, I say something to them before each and every game. We're going to play this game. I talked to them yesterday about it. We just have to remember what it took us to get here and how hard we worked to get here, and not get caught up in if we lose, it's over, and if we win we have to go back to Detroit. We have to have respect how hard we worked to get here. We're a World Series team. It's pretty amazing where we've come from. So I think you look at the positive things and you stay with that and you know that if you win a ballgame tonight you're still playing, and I keep emphasizing that. The postseason, if you win the next game, you always play the next day. If we didn't, we're going to go home. We're going to try to get better. And obviously next year, but we still got a legitimate shot. We're talking about nine innings to win a game. Can we do that? Absolutely. Will we? I have no idea. There's no special message. These guys are all bright young men, they can figure it out.

With Polanco, what can you say or do with him to kind of help him get going at the plate?

JIM LEYLAND: I have no clue. If I knew that, I would have done it three games ago. But he's one of our most professional hitters. In fact, I think he's one of the most professional hitters in the American League. Maybe not productive home run-wise and stuff, but he's a tremendous hitter. He had a line shot last night, he hit a bullet to leftfield. When we needed to get the guy over, I didn't need to sacrifice, because I knew he could hit it that way. He hasn't had, obviously, a very good World Series offensively, although he has hit a few balls pretty good, and the ones he hit good were caught. It's been one of those little funks where if you hit it good, it's right at somebody. But he's definitely one of our guys. I mean, I think the world of him. He's a professional hitter and I can honestly say without Placido Polanco, he's one guy, we wouldn't have been here without him. There's no question about that. You just have to hope he finds some holes tonight.

Can you think of a player that you've seen or managed or managed against that you would draw parallels with with Eckstein?

JIM LEYLAND: I'd have to think about that. I think that the No. 1 thing about Eckstein is that people don't really give him the credit for the amount of talent he has. This guy is a much more talented player than I think is the perception. I mean, this guy is very tough to strike out. He can pop a ball, I'm not talking about home run power, but he makes -- he never misses a ground ball. They say, well, he doesn't have a strong arm, but everybody is always out. This guy is really a talented player. And I think what happens is because he's smaller in physical structure everybody thinks that there's this cute little kid, doesn't have a lot of talent, but nice kid, plays hard, hustles. You know, believe me, there's a lot more to this guy than that. This guy is a very talented baseball player. I've never seen him miss a ground ball. And I can remember talking to Don Zimmer, who I talk to all the time, a couple of years ago told me about him. He said, you look at him, you can't figure it out. And then during the course of the game he's in the middle of every single thing. He's gone after ground balls in a series, he's in the right spot every time. This guy is a heck of a player. And I think it's unfair that he really doesn't get the credit that he deserves for having as much talent as he does. This guy is a very talented guy. And he's also obviously a very tough kid.

This will only be the second time in the last two weeks that you guys will play consecutive days, how much of a relief is that for your guys?

JIM LEYLAND: I think it's obviously good for us. But once again, believe me when I tell you, I'm not looking to find anything that would indicate that we're feeling sorry for ourselves or we have some reason for not doing well. I'm not going to do that. Obviously we need to play, we haven't played very much. Have we been a little stale? We probably have been. But I'm just not going to get into that because I just think that people take that the wrong way, and somebody along the line is going to say, the Tigers are looking for excuses. There's no excuses. I just won't tolerate that.

Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.